Supportive care is an essential component of anticancer treatment regardless of age or treatment intent. As the number of older adults with cancer increases, and supportive care strategies enable more patients to undergo treatment, greater numbers of older patients will become cancer survivors. These patients may have lingering adverse effects from treatment and will need continued supportive care interventions. Older adults with cancer benefit from geriatric assessment (GA)-guided supportive care interventions. This can occur at any stage across the cancer treatment continuum. As a GA commonly uncovers issues potentially unrelated to anticancer treatment, it could be argued that the assessment is essentially a supportive care strategy. Key aspects of a GA include identification of comorbidities, assessing for polypharmacy, screening for cognitive impairment and delirium, assessing functional status, and screening for psychosocial issues. Treatment-related issues of particular importance in older adults include recognition of increased bone marrow toxicity, management of nausea and vomiting, identification of anemia, and prevention of neurotoxicity.
The role of physical therapy and cancer rehabilitation as a supportive care strategy in older adults is important regardless of treatment stage or intent.